Zanshin (Remaining Mind) in English is often translated as awareness but this word does not fully cover the full meaning of the word. One understanding of Zanshin is the accumulated information already processed by the brain, as well as the presence of your character and spirit within the current environment. It is not enough to be an observer in the world.
Warriors with Zanshin have an innate sense of their surroundings and the ability to reach out into the environment to capture information that others might find insignificant or irrelevant. The ever present need for more information is why Zanshin appears to be most present at the end of a technique or Kata. The mind remains present and hungry. It searches for more information and perceives any changes as it occurs.
Zanshin is to fit exactly within one’s environment, ever present and in harmony. Perceiving threats before or after an attack, snatching that seemingly irrelevant piece of information that gives insight into relationships both business and personal, being aware of your own body and emotions and how it responds to the stimuli from the environment around you. Zanshin is an experiential experience. It must be felt not thought, lived not taught.
Zanshin is free of fear, worry, emotion and prejudice. Words may describe the experience but never fully convey the true experience. Once experienced it may be recognised in others. One may experience Zanshin without having Mushin (No Mind), but Mushin does not exist without Zanshin. And we will cover Mushin in a later post.